COVID-19 - Get vaccinated and stay up to date, and find public health advice for residents.

COVID-19 Advice for the Community

COVID-19 mainly spreads through the respiratory particles of an infected person while breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing.

Infected people, with or without symptoms, can transmit COVID-19. Other people can catch the virus when the particles of the infected person get into their mouth, nose or eyes. COVID-19 can also be transmitted through contaminated objects or surfaces.

COVID-19: Staying safe through personal actions

You can lower your risk of getting COVID by using a "layered approach", especially if you can't avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact. Make informed choices and use the following layers of protection.

  • Get vaccinated and stay up to date

    Getting ourselves and our loved ones vaccinated against COVID-19 has never been more important. While we can't always wear a mask or keep distance from others, we can always have the protection the vaccine offers. The more people in our community that get vaccinated and stay up to date, the more likely we'll avoid a repeat of the difficult measures of the past, and the more we'll keep ourselves and those around us safe. This is even more important for those that come into close contact with people who are immunocompromised.

    If you've felt confused about vaccination for you or your child, you aren't alone. Some people have found it hard to get clear answers they trust. If you're unsure and would like more information, contact the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service or talk to a nurse in person at one of our vaccination clinics. We will listen to your concerns and answer your questions. No pressure to get vaccinated; no judgement about your decision.

    Learn about the COVID-19 vaccine and where you can get vaccinated in Niagara.

  • Stay home if you're sick

    Stay home if you're sick even if your symptoms are mild, you're up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, or previously tested positive within the last 90 days (and since cleared).

    Learn what to do if you have symptoms.

  • Spend time outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor spaces

    Ensure your ventilation system is in good working order. If you don't have a ventilation system, open windows to increase fresh air flow (if weather permits and can be tolerated).

    Learn about how ventilation helps protect against the spread of COVID-19.

    If you use a forced air system to heat or cool your home:

    • Set the system to "Fan On position" if possible
    • Replace your filter when needed
    • Upgrade to a filter with a higher MERV rating if possible
    • Check your owner's manual for details or consult a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional before making any changes to your system

    Avoid using portable fans, ceiling fans and single unit air conditioners. If you must use them, aim the air stream to avoid blowing directly at or between people in the room. Consider using fans that vent to the outside, such as a box fan in a window, a bathroom exhaust fan and a kitchen exhaust fan. Make sure you open a window when using these fans if possible.

    Try to maintain an optimal humidity level, between 30 and 50 per cent in your home. A humidifier or dehumidifier can help you achieve this.

    For other ventilation options, speak with a HVAC professional or see Health Canada's guidance document 'At home: Using ventilation and filtration to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19'.

  • Face coverings / masks

    Masks help protect you and those around you from COVID-19. Learn about the qualities of a good mask.

    Ontario continues to require masking in some settings and situations. Find out where or when you may be required to wear a mask.

    Niagara Region Public Health strongly recommends everyone who can, continue to wear a mask while COVID-19 infections remain high.

  • Physical distancing

    Some people may choose to still use physical distancing as an effective layer of protection against COVID-19.

    Physical distancing means avoiding close contact with others by staying at least two metres apart from people you don’t live with. Further than two metres is better especially when:

    • Indoors and unmasked, such as when eating
    • If people in the groups are unvaccinated or if their vaccination status is unknown

    To practise physical distancing:

    • Have virtual gatherings or events
    • Work from home, where possible
    • Conduct meetings virtually, where possible
    • The fewer people who gather, the lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Outdoor gatherings or events are safer than indoor.

    It's important to remember that knowing someone doesn't reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

  • Clean your hands often

    Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitize and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Practise respiratory etiquette and keep things clean

    Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your sleeve. Throw used tissues into a covered, compostable bag lined organics bin or a plastic lined garbage can. Clean your hands after.

    Avoid sharing personal items, especially those that come into contact with saliva, such as toothbrushes and eating utensils.

    Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces once a day using a disinfectant and following manufacturer’s instructions.

Layers of protection from COVID-19

We know the layers of protection have worked to reduce the harms caused by COVID-19. Many of these measures, like staying home when sick, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette were practised before COVID-19 to prevent the spread of other infectious diseases. They should continue to be part of our everyday practices, today and always.

Public Health advice may change over time in response to the current COVID-19 situation. Future COVID-19 activity will depend on factors such as:

  • Waning immunity
  • Uneven vaccine coverage
  • Potential for repeated emergence of highly immune-evasive and / or more severe variants of concern
  • The ability of COVID-19 to mutate and escape existing immunity
  • Seasonal patterns as seen with colds and flu

The more layers of protection you use, the higher the level of protection you will have. Public Health strongly recommends all individuals get vaccinated and stay up to date for best protection.

If you're at higher risk of exposure or severe outcomes

While COVID-19 can make anyone sick, some individuals are more at risk of exposure to the virus. This can be based on someone's occupation, such as health care workers, or where they live, such as residents of congregate living settings.

Some individuals are more at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection, such as hospitalization or death. These include:

  • Older adults (increasing risk with each decade, especially over 60 years)
  • Immunocompromised individuals
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions
  • Individuals living with obesity
  • Pregnant individuals
  • Individuals with Down Syndrome
  • Individuals belonging to a racialized population
  • Individuals of lower socioeconomic status
  • Individuals who have not received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses. Visit getting vaccinated and staying up to date for personalized recommendations by group.

Factors for increased risk of exposure and severe outcomes may overlap, further increasing one's risk. These individuals should especially consider using multiple layers of prevention for the best protection against COVID-19. Health Canada recommends that for people at higher risk, it’s even more important to:

  • Wear a well-fitting medical mask
  • Consider wearing a respirator if one is available to you

If a medical mask or respirator isn't available to you, make sure you properly wear a well constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask.

Check your COVID-19 visit risk.

Frequently asked questions

Travel

There is still a risk due to COVID-19 posed by travelling to other parts of Canada or internationally, especially to areas where there is higher spread. Consider your risk when thinking about planning a trip.

If you do decide to travel, protect yourself by getting vaccinated and staying up to date. As well, when travelling, be mindful that some activities are higher risk, such as being in crowds or busy indoor spaces. Outdoor activities and protections like wearing masks are encouraged.

If you're planning a vacation, consider travelling within the province. The Ontario government is encouraging residents to support our local tourism industry and businesses as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic. You can use Ontario's Staycation Tax Credit for 20 per cent of your eligible 2022 accommodation expenses.

  • What do I need to know about international travel?

    Before you leave Canada

    The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided travel advice for Canadians considering travelling abroad during the pandemic.

    Countries may have proof of vaccination requirements that you must meet to be allowed entry. Learn about the Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination as a way for you to show proof of your COVID-19 vaccination history when travelling internationally. This form of proof does not guarantee you entry to another country. Before you travel, you must check the rules of your destination country and the countries you transit through.

    Returning to Canada

    You should learn about federal arrival tests and quarantine requirements so you know what is expected of you before you return to Canada.

    Vaccinated travellers must use ArriveCAN to enter their proof of vaccination. Learn about uploading proof of vaccination in ArriveCAN. If you're vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine, you might qualify for an exemption from federal quarantine.

    See the checklists for requirements and exemptions when travelling.

    See information for children and dependants.

    If you develop COVID-19 symptoms upon return, self-isolate.

  • What do I need to know about travel within Canada?

    Mandatory protective measures against COVID-19 are lifting across Canada, but COVID-19 is still circulating at a very high level. You will need to check and see if there are any travel restrictions and exemptions when moving between some other provinces and territories.

    When you enter another province or territory, there may also be additional restrictions and protective measures that you must follow. Check with local authorities at your final destination before leaving Ontario. Even where protective measures are not mandated, they are almost always strongly recommended.

General information

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